Hand Injuries and Osteoarthritis

Atlanta Stem Cell Therapies

Regenerative treatments for hand injuries and osteoarthritis

We use our hands for so much in life, and the impact of osteoarthritis in the hands, and other types of hand and wrist injuries, cannot be underestimated. Hand and wrist pain can significantly impair a person’s ability to carry out even the simplest of tasks and have a major impact on quality of life.

In recent years, regenerative treatments have been found to help restore mobility and function in the hands, especially in cases involving tendon injuries or osteoarthritis of the hands and wrists. By encouraging healing in damaged tissues, such treatments can also help relieve hand and wrist pain and stiffness.

Non-surgical stem cell and blood platelet procedures provide a safe and effective option for anyone with pain in the hand or wrist, and any mobility issues resulting from a hand injury or osteoarthritis. Some of the most common indications for regenerative treatments include:

  • Overuse problems:
    • Carpal tunnel syndrome
    • Tendon pain
    • De Quervain’s disease
    • Repetitive motion syndrome
    • Writer’s cramps
    • Trigger finger or trigger thumb
  • Bone, muscle, or joint problems:
    • Dupuytren’s disease
    • Ganglion cysts
  • Problems from medical conditions:
    • Osteoarthritis
    • Rheumatoid arthritis

Regenerative treatments for hand and wrist injuries and osteoarthritis are at the leading edge of orthopedic medicine. Innovative treatments such as injections with platelet rich plasma, or bone marrow aspirate harness the body’s natural healing potential to restore healthy tissue and relieve symptoms such as pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility and dexterity.

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) found in bone marrow are able to stimulate the activity of chondrocytes in the joints to promote cartilage regeneration. These stem cells help to increase the concentration of proteoglycans and type II collagen in joint tissue and may also encourage the repair of damaged nerve tissue and tendons.

Hand injuries involving the flexor tendons can be particularly challenging, especially as donor tendons are limited in supply. Healing is often slow and incomplete, resulting in a loss of function as well as ongoing hand pain.

Regenerative therapies for such injuries offer a number of advantages, including using a patient’s own stem cells to stimulate natural healing processes or using such cells to build new tendons for later grafting.

A number of clinical trials have found injections of MSCs from bone marrow aspirate, as well as adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) to be well tolerated, safe, and effective. Regenerative treatments are advantageous in that they actively work to repair damaged tissue and tackle the underlying causes of hand and wrist pain, instead of just masking such symptoms and allowing damage to continue.

Cell-based therapies are an ideal way to relieve symptoms of hand and wrist injury and disease while promoting tissue repair and inhibiting further joint degeneration.

Non-surgical regenerative treatments can usually be carried out as outpatient procedures, meaning that there is little disruption to a patient’s regular routine. As regenerative therapies also promote the restoration of hand strength and dexterity, they are especially helpful for younger patients concerned about loss of income and reduced quality of life for years to come.

Regenerative treatment of hand and wrist conditions can be carried out using injections of:

Bone marrow concentrate

Bone marrow is a rich source of mesenchymal stem cells that go on to create all of the tissues of the joints and bones. Given that there is a reduction in stem cell concentrations and activity in older joints and in long-standing joint injury, the injection of fresh stem cells from bone marrow can instigate healing and tissue repair to relieve symptoms of joint damage and osteoarthritis.

To create bone marrow concentrate, a needle and syringe are used to extract a patient’s own bone marrow fluid, usually from the hip bone. This fluid may be directly injected into a joint during orthopedic surgery, or may be centrifuged (spun very fast) to separate out the stem cells and create a bone marrow concentrate (BMC).

Injections with BMC are especially advantageous for younger patients who want to explore therapeutic options that can help preserve joint motion, strength, and stability. BMC may also help slow down degenerative processes in older joints in the hands and wrist, and overcome the age-related decline in stem cell concentrations that can hinder successful recovery after hand surgery.

Bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells have also demonstrated potential benefits in autoimmune arthritis, a condition which can result in painful joints in the hands. In some cases, autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis may be associated with abnormalities in stem cells, with some evidence that injecting normal BMCs directly into damaged tissue can intractable autoimmune arthritis.

BMC injections have also been found to help accelerate bone-tendon healing, reducing scar tissue by encouraging the formation of healthy tissue. As such, BMC injections may help support joint health and enhance mobility while resolving wrist and hand pain.

 

Platelet rich plasma (PRP)

Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is an easily accessible material that offers a rich cocktail of growth factors to promote tissue healing and relieve hand pain. PRP is derived from a patient’s own blood, which is drawn and then centrifuged to separate out plasma and stem cells.

Concentrated PRP contains a range of growth factors that, when injected into damaged or diseased tissue, trigger the body’s natural healing processes. The constituents of PRP can also override dysfunctional biologic activity, helping to prevent further joint degeneration.

PRP injections are widely used to treat tendon injuries, including injuries in the hands. PRP preparations can stimulate tendon progenitor cells to enable tendon repair, including enhancing cell proliferation and differentiation into active tenocytes.